Bringing out the best in your kitty

Giving praises and warnings play a big role in educating your kitten. Praise can be expressed with loving words, a tender belly rub, or sometimes even with treats (because, as we all know, the way to the heart is through the stomach).

If you need to reprimand your kitty for bad cat behavior (such as scratching furniture or walking on the dinner table), you'll have to think like a cat to get results. You'll get no response, other than confusion, if you try to reprimand naughty behavior hours after the incident.

Try to catch your cat in the act, remove him or her from the location of the bad cat behavior, offer a gruff "no", and reinforce correct cat behavior. For example, if your kitty loves to scratch your precious furniture, take your cat to the scratching post and provide lots of praises and kisses when it's used. This associates positive reinforcement with good cat behavior. If your kitty continues to disobey, you may want to place your cat in a safe, closed room or its cat carrier for 5-10 minutes, away from toys and family members, to get your point across. You may also try a spray bottle of room temperature water, or a sharp "hissing" sound. Of course, no cat behavior should be reprimanded physically with swatting or hitting. Not only will your cat not understand this type of reprimand, it can quickly break the bond of trust and lead to even more problematic cat behavior.

Certain types of persistent bad cat behavior can also be signs of health problems. For instance, urinating away from the litter box may be an indication of a urinary tract infection. If you're not sure whether the action is just a bad cat behavior that needs correcting, or something more serious, contact your vet immediately.